**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

A Peevish Day, And Its Consequences
by [?]

“IT is too bad, Rachael, to put me to all this trouble; and you know I can hardly hold up my head!”

Thus spoke Mrs. Smith, in a peevish voice, to a quiet-looking domestic, who had been called up from the kitchen to supply some unimportant omission in the breakfast-table arrangement.

Rachael looked hurt and rebuked, but made no reply.

“How could you speak in that way to Rachael?” said Mr. Smith, as soon as the domestic had withdrawn.

“If you felt just as I do, Mr. Smith, you would speak cross too!” Mrs. Smith replied a little warmly. “I feel just like a rag; and my head aches as if it would burst.”

“I know you feel badly, and I am very sorry for you. But still, I suppose it is as easy to speak kindly as harshly. Rachael is very obliging and attentive, and should be borne with in occasional omissions, which you of course know are not wilful.”

“It is easy enough to preach,” retorted Mrs. Smith, whose temper, from bodily lassitude and pain, was in quite an irritable state. The reader will understand at least one of the reasons of this, when he is told that the scene here presented occurred during the last oppressive week in August.

Mr. Smith said no more. He saw that to do so would only be to provoke instead of quieting his wife’s ill-humour. The morning meal went by in silence, but little food passing the lips of either. How could it, when the thermometer was ninety-four at eight o’clock in the morning, and the leaves upon the trees were as motionless as if suspended in a vacuum? Bodies and minds were relaxed–and the one turned from food, as the other did from thought, with an instinctive aversion.

After Mr. Smith had left his home for his place of business, Mrs. Smith went up into her chamber, and threw herself upon the bed, her head still continuing to ache with great violence. It so happened that a week before, the chambermaid had gone away, sick, and all the duties of the household had in consequence devolved upon Rachael, herself not very well. Cheerfully, however, had she endeavoured to discharge these accumulated duties, and but for the unhappy, peevish state of mind in which Mrs. Smith indulged, would have discharged them without a murmuring thought. But, as she was a faithful, conscientious woman, and, withal, sensitive in her feelings, to be found fault with worried her exceedingly. Of this Mrs. Smith was well aware, and had, until the latter part of the trying month of August, acted toward Rachael with consideration and forbearance. But the last week of August was too much for her. The sickness of the chambermaid threw such heavy duties upon Rachael, whose daily headaches and nervous relaxation of body were borne without a complaint, that their perfect performance was almost impossible. Slight omissions, which were next to unavoidable under the circumstances, became so annoying to Mrs. Smith, herself, as it has been seen, labouring under great bodily and mental prostration, that she could not bear them.

“She knows better, and she could do better, if she chose,” was her rather uncharitable comment often inwardly made on the occurrence of some new trouble.

After Mr. Smith had taken his departure on the morning just referred to, Mrs. Smith went up into her chamber, as has been seen, and threw herself languidly upon a bed, pressing her hands to her throbbing temples, as she did so, and murmuring,

“I can’t live at this rate!”

At the same time, Rachael set down in the kitchen the large waiter upon which she had arranged the dishes from the breakfast-table, and then sinking into a chair, pressed one hand upon her forehead, and sat for more than a minute in troubled silence. It had been three days since she had received from Mrs. Smith a pleasant word; and the last remark, made to her a short time before, had been the unkindest of all. At another time, even all this would not have moved her–she could have perceived that Mrs. S. was not in a right state–that lassitude of body had produced a temporary infirmity of mind. But, being herself affected by the oppressive season almost as much as her mistress, she could not make these allowances. While still seated, the chamber-bell was rung with a quick, startling jerk.